Friday 24 May 2013

Queyras Ski Touring

Yes, you did read that post title correctly - non glaciated ski touring, below 3000m, in the final week of May. I know that summer will come eventually, but winter really is putting up a hell of a fight this year!

The weather in Cham over the past few days has been pretty desperate, and with me having sat in front of a computer for 3 days, and Matt having spent a week on an oil rig, cabin fever had well and truly kicked in and we spent Wednesday evening studying forecasts around Europe in search of some sun. The best bet looked like the south of France, and we set off with kit for just about every mountain activity, but with plans to ski if possible.

Morale received a big boost when we emerged from the Mont Blanc tunnel into perfect blue sky, and despite wondering briefly  if we should just go touring in the Gran Paradiso, we stuck to the plan and headed for Briancon. From there we followed pretty rough roads to the tiny settlement of Les Fonts, from where we had 2 excellent days touring (separated, inevtiably, by a couple of pints in the big smoke of Briancon).

SKIING!!! We only had to walk for about 10 minutes before we could skin.

The Sommet du Grand Vallon. We climbed this peak on our second day, and had planned to ski the N couloir (the obvious line directly off the summit), but the cold tempeartures and icy snow eventually sent us down the nice, mellow slopes on the right.

Matt arriving on top of Pic Lombard on our first day

Alpine Clownery

Summit panorama. I made Matt face the camera - his nose took up most of the shot the first time I tried it.

Planning further missions

Me in the spring snow. Photo Matt Livingstone

It's mighty quiet in Les Fonts! The van looking lonely in the vastness of the Ecrins.


Briancon - possibly not the best venue for a stag do, but a lovely place all the same.

Skinning up in freezing temperatures on our second day

Shredding it!

Me enjoying summer!!! Photo Matt Livingstone.

Matt with the Sommet du Grand Vallon behind.

I'm now back in Cham and the weather remains pretty awful. It apparently snowed up in Le Tour today, and has tried to down here in Les Houches, so the Midi will be great if we just get some visibility. 

Just to finish with some outrageous boasting, I worked out that my first day of touring this winter was on the 21st November 2012 (report here), so I have now been ski touring for 6 months and 3 days so far this winter! Given that the 4000ers of Switzerland are often really good throughout June, I reckon I can easily manage a 7 month ski season. That's still about 5 months too short for my liking, but not bad :)